the end of civilization as we know it

the end of civilization as we know it

Refers hyperbolically to some sudden or unexpected deviation from what is familiar or customary. Well, whoever is elected, it won't be the end of civilization as we know it; each candidate is as good or bad as the other in my book. A lot of people think same-sex marriage will mark the end of civilization as we know it.
See also: end, know, of, we

the end of civilization as we know it

1 the complete collapse of ordered society. 2 used to indicate that someone is being alarmist or is overreacting to a trivial inconvenience or blunder as if it were enormously significant and catastrophic.
This expression is supposedly a cinematic cliché, and was actually used in the film Citizen Kane ( 1941 ): ‘a project which would mean the end of civilization as we know it’.
1999 Select The giant, dreadlocked rapper's third album contains extensive deliberations on the end of civilisation as we know it.
See also: end, know, of, we